Thursday, January 31, 2008

Day 24

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 23

Who is Still the Doctor


Following on from this post, I've been thinking more about my early experiences with Doctor Who.

Although Pertwee was my first and (sentimental) favorite Doctor, you can't really think about Doctor Who without bringing up Mr. Scarf.

During high school, these were the episodes running on public tv, and I made sure to watch them regularly. I adored the actual scarf and at one point convinced a college girlfriend to teach me how to knit so I could whip one up for myself. Unsurprisingly, it stayed in a canvas bag in a partially knitted state (probably 1/15th of the total length actually got knitted) for twenty years before I finally admitted to myself that I'd never finish it.

While still in high school, I received a nice present from my parents one year, as my mother had knitted three regular scarves together to form one long scarf. The thought was great and I wore it quite a bit, but the three scarves were each just a single color (a red one, a grey one and a brown one, if I remember right) and though the length was perfect, the effect just wasn't the same.

So flash forward a couple dozen years and the miracle of the internet gets me to accidentally come across a woman selling custom scarves on ebay. Well, what could I do? I got one. What joy! Too bad I now live in a climate where we don't really get a lot of weather that justifies a scarf. Although that never stopped the Doctor...

Once I had the scarf, I started thinking about Doctor Who again, something I'd really not put much thought in for many years. This all happened to coincide with the return of Doctor Who to the BBC, so the universe sent me a sign, I guess, that it was the right time to return to Who viewing.

And so I have.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 22

Neil Is

Came across this internet meme: take your name, google it as "[Your name] is" with the quotation marks, and see what comes up. Cut/paste the fun phrases into a post.

And so,

Neil is one jolly good fella.

Neil is
an independent itinerant consultant, trainer and author.

Neil is t
he nemesis as the BBC hits back at its bureaucrats.

Neil is
also one of the founders of the newly-launched University of Fredericton.

Neil is
also working in Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny , which is a story of a boy named Johnny. Neil doesn’t play the lead role.

Neil is
just acting out the family legacy.

Neil is
not currently planning any shows.

Neil is
rich. But obviously, he needs more.

Neil is our hero.

Neil is happy.

Peter Sagal

Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me has an interesting post at his blog. In it, he discusses the way media can shape opinion.

"I think that as consumers of media, these days, we’re all trying to stand firm in face of an onslaught of information, a flood. It’s a Niagra Falls of data, and we’re trying to go up it, in a barrel. I think that in this almost impossible task your only protection – your umbrella, as it were – is an original thought. They’re hard to come by, these days… but I think it’s possible. You have to rely on your own insight, and you have to put yourself through an almost Cartesian rigor of doubt. You have to ask yourself the question that my friend Jess asked me: What information do you have that makes you believe that to be the truth? Is it something you know, or is it something you were told? And if you were told it, what is the motive of the person who told you? Is he trying to fool you? Or, as is far more likely, is he trying to please you? That’s much more dangerous, and often more successful. Nobody wants to be fooled, and we’re on our guard against it. Everybody wants to be pleased."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Who is the Doctor


So, now I've got myself thinking about Doctor Who.

I first started watching while a wee lad in Iowa. I must have been in fifth grade at the time and somehow started watching a few episodes of this strange and wonderful show about an eccentric fellow who fought monsters and aliens and such. I recall enjoying it and watching fairly regularly, but I really got hooked after an incident at school.

You see, there was this girl.

I'd noticed her almost immediately upon the start of classes. We'd only just moved to this part of town, so this was a whole new school and I was once again the new kid, so there was little chance that I would be able to connect with this new cute girl. Making friends with the other boys was hard enough.

I don't know now why or how it even came up. But somehow during class one day, I mentioned this show Doctor Who I'd been watching. After class, she rushed over to me.

"You watch Doctor Who?" she said.

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Isn't it great!"

This changed everything. We had something in common. I could hardly wait for the show to start each evening, hoping I could discuss new plot developments with her on the playground the next day.

Of course, I never really spoke to her again. She rejoined her socially superior group of girl friends and I slowly became acquainted with other nerds on the periphery.

Today, I don't remember her name, I don't really even remember what she looked like. But I remember that feeling, that small connection I had with her.

And that's why, so many years later, with seven other actors tackling the part of Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee remains my favorite.

Day 14

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 11

About TIme

Another item I bought with my gift card was Tat Wood's About Time 6: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who (Seasons 22 to 26, the TV Movie)the latest installment in that series. I've got the other ones, too, and find them amusing, informative and thoroughly readable. Of course, the prerequisite is that you're a Doctor Who fan.

Yes, among other things, I'm a nerd.

In Defense of Food

I got a Barnes & Nobles gift card for my birthday and one of the items I purchased for myself was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifestoby Michael Pollan. I've read several chapters already (thanks, snow day!) and am quite enjoying it. I've been actively trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils for quite a while now, but this, I think, will lead me to be even more cognizant of reading labels. It's so difficult to figure out things to cook from raw ingredients, especially when trying to figure out what children might eat and how long it might take to do it. But I think we've got to start figuring out how to stay on the outside edges of the grocery store and avoid the middle aisles as much as possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Material

I've been a little concerned that eight weeks is a long time to stretch out The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possibleby A.J. Jacobs for Sunday school.

Last Sunday, our church hosted Philip Yancey, author of works such as Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? and Reaching for the Invisible God.Since I'm on the committee that brought him to town, Jennifer and I got to have lunch with him, and during the course of our conversation I mentioned my Sunday school class and my concerns about stretching the material. He suggested I pick up Shalom Auslander's Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir as another take on some of the same material, specifically our relationship to the laws set out in the Old Testament. This one is written by someone who grew up as an orthodox Jew and still thinks God is out to kill him. Now that he's got a son, he's wrestling with his own troubled upbringing. I promptly rushed out and bought it, and a couple chapters in I have to say it's bitterly funny and may pan out as a good resource for my class. We'll see.

Day 10

Day 9

Day 8

Day 7

Day 6

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically

I volunteered to teach a Sunday school class on a book called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possibleby A.J. Jacobs. It's a lighthearted account of one man's quest to abide by all the rules he finds in the Bible. Being a non-practicing Jew, he definitely leans toward the Old Testament side of things, but eventually incorporates New Testament ideas into his year-long quest. While I didn't find it quite as funny as I'd hoped and lacking any kind of epiphanies about how these rules can apply to us, it was still a fun book to read and we'll see how it goes teaching a class on it. I'm frankly skeptical that I can stretch the material out over 9 weeks, but we'll see. I'm hoping to use it as a springboard to discuss and contemplate how the rules laid out in the Bible can perhaps still be useful in bringing us closer to God.

One of the pastors at church, when I mentioned the title and class to her, immediately shot back, "So, are you going to grow out your beard?" It hadn't even occurred to me to do this. Later, she made an announcement to her class that new classes were starting soon and that I was teaching one and that I'd be growing a beard. So, feeling the pressure, I thought, what the heck. I'll grow out my beard. I haven't done it before, so it'll be interesting to see what it looks like. The closest I ever came was growing a mustache to play young Einstein in Picasso at the Lapin Agile back in 1999.

So I figured I'd better document the beard. And here it is. The beard. Day two.

Underwhelming, I know.